For Immediate Release, December 9, 2021

Contact:

Amaroq Weiss, (707) 779-9613, aweiss@biologicaldiversity.org

Another Endangered Southeast Washington Wolf Killed Despite No New Livestock Conflicts

OLYMPIA, Wash.— The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today that a livestock owner in southeast Washington killed a juvenile wolf on Dec. 8, despite the lack of any new livestock conflicts since Nov. 15. An adult male wolf from the same pack already was killed by the agency Nov. 18.

“Why did state officials allow the killing of this wolf without waiting to see the effect of previously shooting another animal from this family?” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This mentality of ‘killing-wolves-is-the-solution’ has to stop. It’s an unscientific approach that fractures wolf families and demolishes the credibility of Washington’s wildlife agency.”

Between Aug. 25 and Nov. 1, four incidents of livestock predation on stock belonging to two separate livestock owners were documented in southeast Washington. The wolves believed to have been involved are from a previously unknown pack of wolves establishing a territory close to the already-existing Touchet and Tucannon packs. The new wolf family is thought to have consisted of five adults and four pups.

Two yearling female wolves from this developing pack were struck and killed by vehicles and found Nov. 5 and Dec. 5, respectively.

On Nov. 10 the department issued kill permits to the two livestock owners, allowing them to kill a total of two wolves. On Nov. 15 one additional livestock predation on stock owned by a third individual was discovered. In response the department temporarily rescinded the livestock owners’ kill permits Nov. 18 and sent its own staff into the field to kill wolves.

Department staff killed an adult wolf that same day and reissued kill permits to the livestock owners, allowing them to kill a second wolf, without waiting to see if killing the first wolf ended conflicts. Despite no new predations since Nov. 15, a second wolf, this time a juvenile, was killed Dec. 8 by one of the livestock owners.

“We’d like to see the department’s decisions reflect the best available science, which clearly indicates that using nonlethal deterrence measures, rather than killing wolves, is most effective and less costly,” said Weiss. “Their mission is to protect Washington’s wildlife, not to cave in to demands that wolves be killed.”

Gray wolves are listed as endangered under state law throughout Washington. Since 2012, the state has killed 36. In killing these wolves, the department says it’s relying on a state wolf plan adopted in 2011 and guidance from a separate protocol crafted by the agency in 2016 and updated in 2017. But neither the plan nor the protocol contains requirements or enforceable provisions as to when wolves may be killed over livestock conflicts.

In May 2020 the Center and other conservation groups submitted an administrative petition urging the adoption of rules with enforceable requirements for the department and livestock operators. These rules would direct the use of appropriate nonlethal measures before resorting to killing wolves and would replace the guidance in the state’s current protocol.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission denied this petition, but in September 2020 Gov. Jay Inslee overturned this decision. Under the governor’s directive, the agency is now preparing draft rules that are expected to be released for public comment sometime this fall.

RSWolf_Yellowstone_National_Park_Jim_Peaco_NPS_FPWC-scr.jpg
Gray wolf (Canis lupus). Photo courtesy of Jim Peaco, National Park Service Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.